As a watcher of butterflies, I’m happy to feature Texas writer, Beverly Stowe McClure, who is a watcher of hummingbirds. Roadrunners also occasionally visit Bev’s country home where she and her husband live. I just imagine their children, grands, and great-grands love to visit and watch the wildlife.
Welcome to Stories a la Mode, Beverly. Make yourself at home, and we’ll talk about your books.
Besides her other books, Bev has also written a picture book about an armadillo, another type of creature that hangs around her home. Frankie’s Perfect Home, illustrated by Alex Morris, is published by Guardian Angel Publishing.
Today, I want to talk about Beverly’s young adult novel, Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, published by Twilight Times Books. For the youngsters among us, here is a picture of a dress pouffed out with crinoline petticoats. I can highly recommend this book to anyone interested in this period of history and to young adults who enjoy stories with excitement and danger, interesting people, and a touch of romance.
Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines is a rare look at the American Civil War from the point of view of a teen-age girl, Elizabeth, “Lizzie,” Stamford. Living on the bluff above the Mississippi River in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Lizzie, her family, and their two black servants, have to endure the bombardment and siege of their city by Union gunboats on the river.
Though her parents try to protect her and isolate her from the war, the war comes to her. Because cannon fire damages their house and threatens their lives, Lizzie moves into a cave with her mother and younger brother, Nat, and the servants. Her two older brothers, William and Joseph, are serving in the Confederate Army in Virginia, and her father, a doctor, spends most of his time at the hospital tending to the sick and injured.
The damp and dirty cave is a comedown from the elegance of their home, but that is not rebellious Lizzie’s worst complaint. She chafes under the rigid restraints Southern society puts on girls. She wants to be a soldier. And she has the resourcefulness and grit to carry out her desire.
Lizzie runs away, wearing some of her brother’s clothes and joins a Confederate regiment. She experiences some horrible things. She stumbles upon a dead body, staring into lifeless eyes. She is almost shot—twice. She walks through a battlefield after the battle is over, avoiding bodies and trying to keep her composure. One wounded soldier lay dying and begging for help. All Lizzie can do is pray for him as he dies.
Battle–noise, smells, death, and fear sicken Lizzie. Deciding to return home, she encounters a wounded Yankee soldier. She takes him home with her and now she begins to see the enemy as a person. This Yankee, Ben, is different from what Lizzie was led to expect; he’s charming and kind. With her father’s help, she nurses Ben back to a semblance of health.
When deserters invade her home, Lizzie faces the muzzle of a gun for the third time. But this time, she gets the upper hand and shoots the man threatening her.
Hunger and living in a cave are not the worst things about war, as Lizzie finds out. Separation of families, death and fear, hatred of the unknown are worse than physical hurts; they are demoralizing.
All these experiences change Lizzie and hasten her growing up. And that’s a good thing. We are left with the idea that the Yankee, Ben, will return some day to pay Southern-style court to the beautiful Lizzie.
Beverly, I’m happy to be connected to you through our mutual association with Guardian Angel Publishing. Thanks for sharing this very interesting and well-written book with us.
Kudos to the illustrator of the cover, as well.
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Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines by Beverly Stowe McClure is available through these vendors:
Barnes and Noble.com
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Disclaimer: I purchased the Kindle edition of this book and have not been paid for this review.